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Flooding in northern Iowa impacts some public areas and raises baiting questions

DES MOINES - It will not be a run-of-the-mill type of opener for many waterfowl hunters in northern portions of the state on Saturday. Extensive flooding has impacted some of the more popular public areas and also raises questions on when hunting flooded fields might be considered baiting.

The early season for ducks, coots and mergansers as well as for both light and dark geese starts Saturday for the northern zone of the state.

While agricultural lands offer prime waterfowl hunting opportunities, hunters should be aware that federal law and Iowa DNR regulations prohibit hunting waterfowl on agricultural land where unharvested crops have been manipulated.

Agricultural land may be hunted as long as any seed or grain present has been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvest, normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice.

A normal agricultural harvest is undertaken for the purpose of gathering a crop. A normal agricultural post-harvest manipulation first requires a normal agricultural harvest. To be considered normal, a harvest must be done in accordance with official recommendations of the Cooperative Extension Service. Requirements from insurance companies that failed crops be disked, mowed, burned or otherwise manipulated are not official harvest recommendations of the Cooperative Extension Service.

If an agricultural crop or a portion of an agricultural crop has not been harvested for any reason, and the crop has been manipulated, the area is considered baited and cannot be legally hunted for waterfowl. Manipulation includes, but is not limited to, such activities as mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments. Grain or seed which is present as a result of a manipulation that took place prior to a normal harvest is bait.

More information on regulations pertaining to what constitutes baiting for waterfowl can be found at: https://www.fws.gov/le/waterfowl-hunting-and-baiting.html

Aldo Leopold Wildlife Management Area in Bremer County is not recommended for hunting. The entire area including the parking lots are under water.

Big Marsh Wildlife Management area in Butler County is not recommended for boat use. Those walking in are urged to use caution because water may be deeper than is expected.

The dock is under water at Sweet Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Butler County and there is higher than normal water at the boat ramp. Hunters are urged to use caution due to the varying water levels and conditions.

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